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Utah to Increase Bear Permits for 2009

November 21, 2008.

From the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources:

The Division of Wildlife Resources is recommending that a total of 316 hunting permits be available for Utah's 2009 spring and fall seasons. In 2008, a total of 299 permits were available.

Based on an average success rate of 41 percent, the extra 17 permits should result in about seven more bears being taken next year.

In 2008, hunters took a total of 126 bears.

More permits for spring hunt

Utah's bears are hunted in the spring and the fall. All of the additional permits the DWR is recommending would be for the spring hunt.

"In the spring, bears kill a lot of livestock, especially sheep," says Justin Dolling, mammals program coordinator for the DWR.

"Federal officers end up killing many of these bears," he says. "We'd like to give hunters a chance to help by allowing more hunters to take bears that might get into trouble."

There's another positive to hunting bears in the spring-fewer female bears are taken.

"Female bears usually come out of their dens later in the spring than the males do," Dolling says. "During most of the spring hunt, most of the females are still in their dens."

Dolling says when female bears do come out of their dens, many of them have cubs with them. "Having the cubs right there with their moms helps hunters know they've found a female bear," he says.

To give hunters a better chance to take bears that cause problems in the spring, the DWR is recommending that the spring season be extended one week on units where most of the instances of bears killing livestock occur.

Black bear plan

In 1999, the DWR put a discussion group together to draft the state's first black bear management plan. Membership on the diverse 12-member group ranged from people opposed to bear hunting to ranchers and hunters.

"The plan set certain safeguards or performance targets to protect Utah's bear population," Dolling says. "For example, one of the performance targets says that not more than 40 percent of the bears taken each year can be females.

"The performance targets have been met every year since 1999," Dolling says. "That tells us Utah's black bear populations are doing well and that it's safe to offer a few more permits."

You can view the black bear management plan by clicking here


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